BE BATTLE READY!: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, ...” (1 Peter 5:8-9a)
Jan 13, 2021, 11:41 AM
Samson was a Nazirite. An angel had appeared to his mother and said to her. “You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son. Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean, because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” (Judges 13:3-5)
Samson was given an assignment even before his birth. God had chosen him to deliver the nation of Israel from the hands of its oppressor, the Philistines -- Israel’s arch-enemy. Whenever the people of God became disobedient, God gave them over to their enemies by way of punishment. Samson was so strong he tore a young lion apart ‘as if it were a young goat.’ On another occasion, Samson struck down 30 men from the camp of his enemies. He also fought and killed 1,000 men with the jawbone of a donkey.
Once he went to Gaza, met a prostitute and went to spend the night with her. When his enemies heard about this they surrounded the place in order to lay hands on him at the break of dawn. But Samson must have got wind of this. He woke up at midnight and in a show of strength “took hold of the city gate, together with the two posts and tore them loose, bar and all.” He carried them on his shoulders to the top of the hill.
Samson displayed enormous physical strength but lacked a sense of responsibility for the role God had called him to play. That weakness which was driven by his carnal appetite took him down the wrong path. It downplayed and overshadowed the function of a deliverer of Israel God had appointed him to be.
There are some leaders who do not measure up to the responsibilities that have been thrust on their shoulders. Samson was set apart with a clear mandate to liberate the people of Israel from the yoke of their enemies, the Philistines in his capacity as judge. Yet, he chose to sleep with the enemy. Samson was bent on marrying a woman from the enemy’s camp even after his parents pleaded with him. “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?” But he replied: “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.” He was later humiliated and he lost his wife to his best man.
The story of Samson cannot be told however without putting the spotlight on his lover, another Philistine woman named Delilah. Samson was head-over-heels in love with this woman. This woman connived with the rulers of the Philistines to find out from her lover – Samson, the secret of his great strength with the intent to overpower him and subdue him -- of course for the handsome amount of eleven hundred shekels from each leader. That was a lot of money – much more than the Pharisees and Sadducees offered Judas to deliver Jesus, his Master to them.
Delilah naturally would owe allegiance to the rulers than she would to Samson who was an enemy in the first instance. She had nothing at stake; her actions revealed her low morals – something Samson was blind to. As the story unfolds however, we get a feeling that the problem was with Samson who had more brawn but no brain. Thrice Delilah attempted to get him to share this secret, for as many times Samson thought it was a game of hide-and-seek.
“Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued.” Delilah asked Samson. ‘Use seven fresh thongs that have not dried,’ Samson replied deceiving Delilah who after putting Samson to sleep called on the rulers to come and collect their booty. “But Samson snapped the thongs as easily as a piece of string snaps when it comes close to a flame.
Delilah scolded Samson: “You have made a fool of me; you lied to me. Come now, tell me how you can be tied.’ On two other occasions Samson played games with Delilah by suggesting that she should use new ropes that have never been used; and thirdly to weave seven braids of his heads into a fabric on the loom and tighten it with a pin. None of these worked. As soon as he was aroused from sleep they just snapped.
The last straw Delilah used was blackmail. “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you wouldn’t confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.” (Judges 16:15) The account continues; “With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was tired to death.” (verse 16) Does this sound familiar? Nagging started way back when.
Samson caved in after Delilah had repeatedly revealed her intent was to tie him so he could be subdued. What would you have done under the circumstances? Would your love for Delilah drive you to such an extent of revealing what would constitute your downfall?
Samson revealed the secret of his great strength on the altar of love. Delilah put him to sleep and called a man to shave off the seven braids of his hair and so began to subdue him. ‘And his strength left him.’
The rulers of the Philistines had finally vanquished their number one enemy. “They seized him, gouged his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding in the prison. Samson’s emotions led to his downfall. He was humiliated and disgraced as a judge of Israel.
Samson had no foresight; he was led by his emotions. Somehow he believed in his strength but fell prey to the craftiness of Delilah. The rulers of the Philistines organised a great feast to celebrate the victory of their god for delivering their enemy into their hands. They used Samson to entertain them.
“But the hair on his head began to grow again after he had been shaved.” (Judges 16:22) Samson prayed to God for his revenge upon his enemies. He had the opportunity to push down the pillars with what was left of his might. “Let me die with the Philistines!” Three thousand people died along with Samson when the stadium collapsed.
Three things you would have observed about Samson which disqualified him as a good leader. He could not perceive the important role he was called to play to save his nation. He could not restrain himself when faced with temptations. His strength did not serve the purpose for which it was given.
God empowered Samson to crush Israel’s enemy but he devalued it by literally playing into their hands. Instead of killing his enemies, he ended up dying with them taking his revenge.
Is there a role God has called you to play in his kingdom that you have not honoured because of a Delilah? The devil is prowling around looking for someone to devour, let it not be you!